Game-winning 2-point conversion only the beginning for UW's Scott

Sep. 9—LARAMIE — Sam Scott didn't go into last weekend's matchup with Texas Tech expecting to be the hero.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was listed as the University of Wyoming's No. 3 running back going into the season-opener against the Red Raiders. He went into the game with just three career carries, all coming in last year's 30-27 overtime loss to Ohio in the Arizona Bowl.

At this time last year, Scott was playing linebacker for the Cowboys. He made the transition to running back — a position he starred at in high school — after a handful of players hit the transfer portal following UW's loss to Fresno State in last year's regular-season finale.

Nine months later, Scott led UW's backfield against the Red Raiders, tallying 44 yards on seven carries and recording his first career touchdown on a 16-yard run. The touchdown tied the game 17-17 midway through the third quarter, but it wouldn't be the last time UW fans heard Scott's name.

Tied 33-33 going into a mandatory two-point conversion attempt in double overtime, offensive coordinator Tim Polasek put all his faith in the sophomore running back, calling his number on a gutsy play call for a run to the left side on a do-or-die play.

After going in motion from the left side of quarterback Andrew Peasley to the right, Scott rewarded Polasek's faith in him, running untouched into the south end zone for the walk-off two-point conversion to seal UW's 35-33 win over 14-point favorite Texas Tech.

"That was the best game, by far, that I've ever been a part of," Scott told WyoSports on Monday.

"To take down a Power 5 school in your home stadium, with the fans, the atmosphere and just the culture, it's incredible here. It was amazing. I want another one."

Scott's breakout game was emotional from start to finish. His first career touchdown was lost in the shuffle of pulling off a miraculous comeback against the Red Raiders, but now that he's had time to reflect, he looks at both the touchdown and the two-point conversion as equally special moments in his career thus far.

"I think from the perspective of a being team player, the two-point conversion was probably a little more important, because we won the game after that," Scott said. "As a collective, we're 1-0, and that's the focus. But still, the rushing touchdown was exciting. That tied it up, and being able to be the guy to put it in was awesome.

"There was amazing blocking on that side. (Tight end Treyton Welch) and (offensive tackle Frank Crum), it was incredible blocking by them."

Crum laid big blocks on both of Scott's scoring runs. On the two-point conversion, the sixth-year veteran sealed the edge for Scott to run right past him.

"He's a beast," Scott said about Crum. "At this level, things aren't open for very long. They close very fast. When you have a guy who can create space like he can, it's so much fun to run behind."

Scott's biggest takeaway from last weekend's win was the reassurance that he can perform — and perform well — at the Division I level. Scott played just six games his senior year of high school because of COVID-19, but he still rushed for 684 yards on 62 carries and averaged 114 yards per game to go along with eight touchdowns.

"I think (Saturday) definitely improved my confidence," Scott said. "Getting the chance to be able to make a big-time play in a big-time game is just going to further my confidence for the next one.

"I'm super excited that it was able to happen this early, because I gained some confidence from that."

Like many other Division I athletes, Scott played both ways in high school. He was recruited to UW as a linebacker, but his transition back to running back has gone about as smoothly as he could have expected so far.

"I have pretty good vision, and that was one of the main reasons they recruited me as a linebacker, because they liked my vision as a running back," Scott said. "Getting back into the swing of things for making cuts, it's different than defense. Those were probably the biggest things that I had worked on this offseason.

"Going into this game, the cuts and quickness you need to have, that was probably the biggest re-learning curve."

Getting back up to speed with making cuts was one of the main reasons he was able to find the end zone on his 16-yard touchdown run against Texas Tech.

"It was just an inside zone play, one that we'd done a million times," Scott said. "Everything got washed down, and I just saw all that movement and made a quick cut and saw all that green grass, so I ran."

Scott is the biggest of UW's top three backs, with Jamari Ferrell and D.Q. James listed at 5-foot-8, 200 pounds, and 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, respectively. After Ferrell and James both lost fumbles early in the first quarter, UW coach Craig Bohl put Scott in the game, an opportunity he made the most of.

"I'm just extremely blessed," Scott said. "All glory to God, my lord and savior Jesus Christ, I was given the opportunity, and I capitalized on it. I was just as shocked as many other people, but I'm glad I was able to do it, and I'm glad we got the win."

Scott, Ferrell and James were all given the "or" designation for the starting job on this week's depth chart, but Bohl wants to see more out of Scott this weekend against Portland State.

"We really have to take a hard look at Sam Scott," Bohl said Monday. "He did some good things within the ball game. Certainly there's a body of work with the other two, but ball security comes into play.

"I just popped my head into the offensive room and had a pretty pointed discussion with our coaches about ball security and the number of carries. When you put the ball on the ground, that puts us in a tough place, so, that's gotta get cleaned up. The other two guys will play, and some of it's going to be who has the hot hand."

Scott also impressed Peasley, especially in the second half and into the two overtime periods. Peasley, who is in his sixth year of college football, was happy for Scott, but wants to see him carry that same energy into week two.

"Having success is going to be a thing that will either show who you are, or it'll bring you down," Peasley said. "Sam had an amazing game, and he stepped up in the spotlight. I'm really, really happy for him.

"Including him and myself and everyone, we have to stay focused on executing football. It was all fun winning and stuff, but we have to stay locked in."

Having scratched and clawed his way up the running back depth chart so quickly, Scott wants to continue with the mindset of making the most of his opportunities. That includes every day in practice, regardless of where his name is listed on the roster.

"It's all about how I emphasize practice," Scott said. "Whenever I go out to practice — whether it's an hour practice, or a two-hour practice — I will try to have enthusiasm and be excited, regardless of how I'm feeling.

"If you have that, there's nothing really stopping you from being ready. When you get those opportunities, you'll be more excited for them. I always want to have that mindset of just being excited to play football."

Scott's other main takeaway from the win over Texas Tech was the team's ability to stay mentally strong, even after falling behind 17-0 early in the game. His goal now is to continue to do his part in living up to the team's favorite mantra.

"We're gritty," Scott said. "We're gritty and tough. 'Cowboy Tough,' that's what we are."

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Alex Taylor is the assistant editor for WyoSports and covers University of Wyoming athletics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @alex_m_taylor22.